I’m conflicted about whether or not to write this thing about a conversation I had with my best friend on Valentine’s Day because by the time this column comes out that will have been like a month and a half ago but I think maybe the subject matter is resonant to punks everywhere at all times so fuck it, right?
So whatever, it was Valentine’s Day and I was out to dinner with one of my BFFs (I’m poly-amicable) because Valentine’s Day is stupid hetero-patriarchy junk b/w her fiancé was working and my New Boo was Too New for it to be anything but weird for us to have any kind of Valentine’s plans. ANYWAY, look the point is this: we’ve known each other for over a decade and we got to talking about what wild maniacs we used to be when we were young.
It was mostly fun memory lane shit, recounting weird bar fights I dragged her out of or times she carried me home from places because I forgot how many pills I’d took and then drank whiskey like I hadn’t taken any. Or when she lived with my recent ex while I was on some busted ass, solipsistic Nicholas Cage in Valley Girl-style wounded man bender and she wanted to get some kind of vengeance on my behalf for the hurt that I was so obviously obfuscating with booze so she smashed all the dishes in the house.
At one point she said something about how in those days she was too scared and wounded by the world to let anyone love her, but she needed that kind of care so she would seek out intimate relationships with people and then push them away as soon as they got close enough that she felt vulnerable, or they tried to convince her to maybe change her wild ways. I emphatically agreed that I felt similarly back then, because I did!
But as we talked more and more about what wrecks we had been and shared stories back and forth about times one or the other of us had either chosen to forget or couldn’t remember because we had succeeded at what we were always trying to do back then—blot out our awareness of ourselves as thinking, feeling humans—I remembered that there was a period of about six months or a year in that era, back when I still lived in my old apartment and she lived around the corner from me, where we slept in bed together almost every night. With zero making out, not that it should matter, but for whatever reason I feel like I need to specify that. And I told her, probably for the first )and possibly for the only) time, that I don’t know if I would’ve made it through that period if we hadn’t been friends. Not that I necessarily would’ve died or anything that dramatic, although that was obviously a possibility for someone who spent a substantial portion of their time biking around a city blacked out drunk with no lights or helmet (not to mention all the other dumb behaviors I used to regularly engage in), but just that, I feel like things got pretty grim for me for a minute and I was able to walk away from it in one piece. I’m not some broken shell of a person. I’m happy and productive and more or less healthy, and I don’t think that was an inevitable outcome. I think I owe a lot of it to our friendship.
And then I started thinking about a through line that we could trace from one story we told to the next, which was a narrative about she and I looking out for each other and having each other’s backs in the exact way we both felt we had been incapable of letting anyone do back then. And I think the thing is, we took care of each other on the most basic, fundamental levels, down to eating and sleeping together. (I know that some people don’t want or need human touch to feel healthy but for those of us that do it’s so important and so easy to forget about.) But I never told her to stop drinking cause she had work in the morning. She never told me it was probably a bad sign that I puked every day. And we weren’t suppressing the need to communicate those things, because that wouldn’t have been healthy either, we just honestly didn’t care about shit like that.
So like, even though we didn’t care about ourselves we were able to care about each other, and it’s because we never made any rules and we never told each other what to do. I think about that Code of Ethics that Jamie wrote in the liner notes of the Bent Outta Shape / Drunken Boat 7”, which probably came out in the same year she and I were sleeping in bed together all the time. It’s a great list and if you haven’t seen it you should look it up on the internet or something, but I’m specifically thinking of rule #4: “Don’t tame / be tamed (no taming).” That was so fundamental to the relationship she and I had, which was pivotal to the fact that we both made it out and into our 30s and we aren’t totally fucked basket cases. Homegirl is my family, straight up.
And it seems like there was something really fitting about having that relationship, that kinship, the love between us, highlighted on Valentine’s Day, which is a time that was manufactured by late Capitalism to make all people feel like shit and enforce some false romance/loneliness dichotomy on a population of people already alienated from each other and their own bodies by technology and social structures designed specifically to do that. Laurie from my book club says that some dude told her Valentine’s Day is based on some Roman holiday where men would get butt naked, kill a wolf, and then run around slapping women with the pelt, but like, you know what I mean, right? Valentine’s Day as it stands today in America or whatever, which you’re reading about in April but like, this isn’t a CURRENT EVENTS magazine, this is a PUNK magazine so get off my back.
All I’m saying is that my best friend is rad and I’m real lucky and also that I think a lot of people come to punk because they feel wounded or alienated or out of control and that a lot of times even in the chaos of addiction and wild behavior and times when it feels like the whole world is fucking out to get you, sometimes there are relationships that you don’t even realize till ten years later are sustaining you and keeping you alive. And that’s it okay?
ENDNOTES: I been listening almost exclusively to cute pop music made by cool punks, I think as a way to combat winter. Specifically, I listen to the SUNCHOKES cassette by the band SPORTS from Cincinatti, that FLEABITE cover of the VENGABOYS, and the ATAQUE DE CASPA record SOL. Bandcamp.com/colinatrophy has links to listen to all that stuff if you wanna hear it. Is there other cool music that sounds like those bands that I don’t know about? Please tell me about it!
or Colin Atrophy / 442-D Lorimer St #230 / Brooklyn, NY 11206. Although by the time this column runs and you mail me a postcard with just the url to some French anarcha-twee group’s facebook page written on it, it’ll be Spring by then and I’ll probably be back to only listening to Dipset.